2 other teams had interest in drafting Laiatu Latu, says ESPN

With Laiatu Latu’s pre-draft medical process going “smooth,” as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler put it, the Colts were far from the only team interested in him.

Following the 2024 NFL draft, Fowler talked to executives, scouts, and coaches throughout the NFL, gaining some insights and clarity around the fits for some of the key members of this year’s draft class.

In Fowler’s report, he calls Latu the “best pure pass-rusher” in the draft, adding that he probably would have been a top-10 pick if it wasn’t for the neck fusion surgery he had in college that forced him to medically retire before transferring from Washington to UCLA.

The Colts were clearly comfortable with Latu’s medical history, with GM Chris Ballard saying after Day 1 of the draft that he asked a “ton of questions” during the pre-draft process about the injury, from the potential for a re-occurrence to the long-term outlook.

But as Fowler notes, the Colts weren’t the only team highly interested in Latu. Had the Broncos not drafted quarterback Bo Nix, Latu would have been “under firm consideration.”

Fowler also heard that Atlanta was trying to trade back into the first round to take Latu. The only team that Fowler knows of that was uneasy about Latu’s medicals were the Miami Dolphins.

“There’s debate about whether Latu will have a long career or play well into a second contract, but in the short term he should be great,” an NFL executive said. “And he might be fine long term, too.”

For two seasons, Latu has been one of the most disruptive pass rushers in college football. In 2023 specifically, he ranked fifth in pressures with 62 and was first among edge rushers in pass-rush win rate.

This is a Colts defense that was able to generate the fifth-most sacks in 2023, but they have to be more consistent in getting after the quarterback overall, ranking 23rd in total pressures.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire